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GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – A mother and father in South Jersey are determined to keep life as normal as possible during Halloween, despite a medical issue that leaves one of their children unable to talk or walk.
Brian and Alexandra Southrey of Galloway Township says no matter what the issue is, nothing can break apart their family bond.
Their son, Brian Southrey Jr., suffers from an endocrine disorder. He is unable to talk or walk due to the disorder and other medical issues.
A misdiagnosis caused him to stop breathing twice, once at 7 weeks old, another time at 9 weeks.
CBS3 caught up with the Southrey Family back in 2016 when Alexandra Southrey and a Galloway Township police officer were in the right place at the right time.
Officer Kevin Jorgensen was nearby when the 911 call came in and helped revive young Brian alongside his mother—both were trained to perform CPR.
Months later, as Halloween approached, Brian Southrey wanted to make the event special for Brian Jr. and his daughter, Ava.
“The bond that our whole family has…just because he can’t walk doesn’t mean he can’t participate,” said Southrey, who set out to build an X-Wing to tie in Star Wars-themed costumes for both kids.
Ava wanted to be Princess Lea and young Brian, who will turn 3 years old this December, donned his Luke Skywalker outfit that Halloween in 2016.
“It ended up being a pretty big hit. People said, ‘What are you gonna do next year?’” said Southrey.
So Southrey set out to top last year’s theme with their take on Captain America and Wonder Woman—building a tank made out of cardboard to fit both kids.
Southrey says his family kept getting recognized, winning at least three Halloween contests in Galloway, but it’s not the reason he does it.
“Not everyone’s lives are perfect — you always got to look through the bright side of things to get through life,” he says.
Alexandra Southrey says it’s all about doing things together.
“It’s just instinctual for him. This is our family, we do things together. How are we going to make sure we do things together,” she says.
So as 2018 rolled around, the ideas started brewing.
“I wanna be a pirate for Halloween,” said 7-year-old Ava.
Brian Southrey set out on a quest to create the perfect ship to hold both of his young pirates this year.
And, he made just that, out of old playground materials from a friend’s backyard.
“I looked at it – it was the perfect shape of a ship hull,” he said.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is now looking after Brian.
“He’s doing really well,” says Alexandra Southrey. “He himself has just proved that he really defied the odds after coding twice.”
“The issues that he’s had has brought our family together,” says Brian Southrey.
CLICK HERE to follow along with Brian’s journey.